“And / Or / Against / For” by Vero Gonzalez
1. Allows for contradictions: weak (emotional) and strong (in control of emotions),
victim (defined by experiences) and survivor (defines own experiences), here (United
States) and gone (Puerto Rico). Good Latina (quiet, submissive) and fierce feminist
2. Encourages synthesis: This plus this plus this–no part of us excluded. Spanish
(colonial heartsong) and English (colonial carnivore) and woman (colonized, so
heartsick and hungry). Duck and duck and goose.
3. Codes language: It wasn’t your fault and here’s what you could have done to prevent
it. So it was my fault? Of course not. It’s just that you could have prevented it.
1. Binary thinking, the kind your therapist says you often show.
2. Either it was your fault or it was my fault.
3. Por mi culpa, por mi culpa, por mi gran culpa. [Beating your chest as you chant this in
church, a new heartbeat: myFAULT, myFAULT, myFAULT.]
4. Implies choice, but also, that one must choose. Limited choices, limited by
choices. [You can have a career or a family. You can have opinions or a man.]
5. What do you mean you’re queer? You’re dating a man!
What do you mean you’re Puerto Rican? You’re so polite.
What do you mean you’re a woman? I can’t seem to keep you down.
1. You need to stop acting like the world is against you. Just because it’s true doesn’t
mean you have to act like it’s true.
2. Hold up a mirror as proof. After all, I’m still here.
3. Current: Stop fighting me. Stop struggling. Just let go. I know you want this. Me:
Just keep swimming, just keep swimming. [Sing-song, like in the cartoon.] Don’t let the
current see you sweat.
4. Against my better judgement.
Against all judgement.
Against the odds.
Against the current.
1. For the sake of thriving, not just surviving.
2. For the sake of living, not just breathing.
3. For the sake of all women–past, present, and future–even myself.
4. Maybe, especially, for myself.
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Vero Gonzalez Artist Statement:
Vero González is a queer femme-inist writer and teacher from San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her
work—both teaching and writing—is heavily informed by her experience navigating and
negotiating her intersecting identities. She is the director of the ELA department at the
Paulo Freire Social Justice Charter School, which means she gets to spend her day talking
about feminism, social justice, and literature with teenagers. Vero is the 2015 recipient of A
Room of Her Own Foundation’s Touching Lives Fellowship, and has a MFA in Poetry from
the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. She likes cupcakes.